Posts Tagged wicking
You don’t usually see travel underwear reviews in the likes of Outside or Travel + Leisure magazines, but we’ve covered the options multiple times here on Practical Travel Gear because you wear underwear every day. If you’re traveling light for 12 days, you don’t necessarily want to carry 12 sets of undies. Especially in a carry-on.
So for people who are good at packing light, fast-drying underwear is something they toss in the bag every time. The idea is that you take half or less the number of days you need, then do a sink wash along the way when needed. (Hint, shampoo is a detergent if you don’t want to carry laundry detergent specifically.) If you’re carrying the right kind of undies, like this underwear from Tilley, then what you wash before bed will be dry by morning.
I like to give my travel gear a good workout before I write up my review, so two pairs of Tilley underwear have traveled with me to Colombia, Ecuador, Veracruz, the Riviera Maya, and Louisiana. They almost felt like normal cotton when on my body, but when I needed to wash them they easily dried overnight. In the sun, they’ll dry in an hour.
They’re not normal cotton though—they’re 100% polyester. They would fool you though as they definitely don’t feel clingy and slick or make you feel like you went back in time to sing for the Bee Gees. They wick moisture, but they’ve also got some absorbancy, which is important for a lot of reasons…
These Tilley Travel Briefs retail for $20, which is certainly more than you’ll pay for a pair of Hanes at Target. But they’ll last you a lot longer and will help you pack light in your travels over and over again—while still remaining comfortable on the move.
See this older review of the Coolmax underwear versions if you’re headed to a really hot climate.
Lightweight, quick-drying, rugged, and comfortable, the Mountain Khakis Equatorial pants check off all the right boxes.
Here at Practical Travel Gear we’ve probably reviewed more pairs of travel pants than any other blog or website on the planet. So when we give a pair of them a big thumbs up, you can be assured they hold up well against some tough competition.
Mountain Khakis is best known as the company producing rugged, last a lifetime western wear for people who spend a lot of time outdoors. Over the past few years though they’ve become a major force in more casual wear and travel clothing that is lighter, but has the same high quality. We’ve reviewed quite a few of their travel shirts and MK women’s travel clothing in that department. These Equatorial Pants are a further evolution and I highly recommend them.
First of all, they’re incredibly lightweight, which is great for both packing light and traveling to hot destinations where shorts are not really acceptable. (You don’t realize until you go traveling around the world that hardly any country’s men wear shorts as much as men here in the USA.) These travel pants weigh in at just 3.7 ounces, which is probably less than some of your t-shirts. So they take up almost no room in your bag and don’t but a smidgen of weight.
Despite that, they’re super-strong, with such a high-density weave that they’ll repel stains and drizzles, and also provide an impressive 50+ UVA/UVB sun protection. Naturally they dry super-quickly. When I hung them outside in the high desert of central Mexico, they were dry and hour later. So overnight shouldn’t be an issue in most climates.
These are quite secure travel pants in two ways: you’ve got hidden zipper pockets that are two of six total to keep away sticky fingers. Then you’ve got a snap cuff on the bottom of the pants to keep out pesky mosquitoes. Consider it extra malaria insurance in the tropics.
I’ve usually got something to gripe about with even the best products we try out, but I can’t find fault with these Mountain Khakis Equatorial Pants unless it’s to caution you they’re probably too thin for cold weather trips. But that’s true for any of these lightweight nylon ones.
Want to have the advantages of one of those travel wallets that hang around your neck without the neck thing? The pockets on this Pickpocket Proof Shirt will keep your valuables next to you and safe.
These shirts aren’t quite as heavy-duty Pickpocket Proof as the P^Cubed pants because they’re not meant to make you look like you’re wearing a ScotteVest. Instead there are just two chest pockets that look normal.
They’re not quite normal though, because both are two pockets in one. The outside pocket is secured with a button, while the inside pocket is a hidden zipper one that’s not visible from the outside. It has a tiny zipper pull the same color as the shirt, plus the seam seals up when it’s zipped closed, so even with the button flap open nobody is going to know it’s there without pulling your pocket open and looking.
These shirt pockets would be the ideal place to store your cash and a credit card you need immediate access to—in several different spots. Or you can keep your passport and the rest of your valuables safely stored away in the P^Cubed pants. For once a matchy-matchy outfit would serve a real purpose. These look similar to other travel shirts you’ve seen though, so it’s not like anyone is going to know they’re the same brand as your pants.
What sets these apart from the competition is the feel of the fabric. Clothing Arts’ “Nature-like Nylon” is softer and more comfortable than the usual rugged but swishy nylon. The fabric has the same properties you want in a travel shirt though: moisture wicking, quick drying, and lightweight. It just feels better.
I’ve worn my sample long-sleeve shirt on a couple trips to cool climates and have been really happy with how it felt and performed. I like how it doesn’t scream “I’m an explorer,” even if that does mean there’s no button on the sleeve for rolling it up and converting it to a short-sleeve. It’s just a nice shirt with a secret.
These Clothing Arts travel shirts are just rolling off the production line and getting into the marketplace, but you can buy direct at that link for $70 (in white, tan, or dark gray) or wait until fall and find them in more locations.
Supposedly 9 out of 10 people on this planet live above the equator, so when we travel we tend to go somewhere hot. That means the kinds of shirts you’re packing for vacation are often ones suited for tropical climates. Then if you’re doing something active on top of that, wicking properties and a quick drying time after washing are especially important.
I’ve been packing three shirts on recent trips that have gone back into the bag for next time because they’ve served me well.
Craghoppers Pablo Solarshield T-shirt
With buttons like a henley but the fit of a t-shirt, this Craghoppers Solarshield for men looks good on a fit body and feels as comfortable as cotton…because it is. This is a technical shirt, but that’s because of what’s on it rather than what it’s made of. It’s treated with zinc oxide, that same stuff that’s in heavy-duty sunblock. As a result this doesn’t just protect your skin: it actually disperses heat and stays cooler than an untreated one.
I’m not usually checking the UV rays rating of the shirts I wear (I can’t ever remember getting sunburned through any shirt I’ve worn, but if you’ve got sensitive skin this will keep you looking good while you’re feeling safe.
There’s a nice hidden pocket for travel and a loop on the front for hanging your shades.
ExOfficio JavaTech Polo
Here’s a new twist on the coffee craze: a shirt that
embeds used coffee grounds in the fabric for superior performance. The fabric company website explains how this works. Supposedly the grounds help pull perspiration away from the skin, something that’s pretty hard to test, but I did have good luck with the claim that they neutralize odor molecules. This was a 2-day shirt no problem and I probably could have gone to three.
There’s a nice hidden stash pocket in the bottom hem, plus like most ExOfficio travel clothing this shirt dries in a jiffy.
You can get this fabric in a T-shirt or 1/4-zip, but I tried the polo shirt and really liked it.
New Balance Impact Shirt
This looks more like a running shirt than a travel shirt, but I’m seeing more and more of this type of shirt on backpackers and tourists alike in hot countries. This one’s better than most because like the Colombia items I reviewed recently, this shirt has a built-in cooling effect activated by your sweat.
The New Balance system is NB Ice with Xilitol and to me this felt noticeably cooler when I wore it on bikes rides and walks. Besides the ventilation to let out the heat, this temperature reduction fabric seems to help—the claim is it can lower your body temperature two degrees. That’s a big help. The reflectivity will keep you seen at night and the nanotech sun protection keeps you from getting burned in the daytime.
This Impact short-sleeve shirt looks good on me and it feels good, so it’s a keeper too on future trips.
Some of the biggest outdoor clothing companies try to do it all, but Pearl iZumi likes to do two things very well instead. One of those things is cycling apparel, for serious Tour de France types or casual riders like me who want to look normal when they dismount.
I did a seven-day biking trip in Portugal a couple months back, so I got to try out some Pearl Izumi biking clothes in real conditions. I wore outfits 8-10 hours at a stretch, on two wheels and in cafes and museums along the way. My wife got to go along with me on this trip, so she tried out some of the items for women and gave me her feedback on them.
Here’s the skinny on what we put through its paces, besides the cool (literally) Rev Shorts I reviewed in May.
This “entry level trail top” lists for $45, but it’s a keeper for me that I keep going to first when I’m heading out the door for a bike ride in hot weather. It’s tight enough to show I’m in shape, but not so tight I look like Mr. Spandex. It wicks moisture as well as any 100% polyester shirt will, but also has ventilated sections in the right places to let out some extra heat. Apart from being a little longer in the back, this just looks like a good workout shirt—a big plus for me.
It’s a cycling shirt, yes, but it’s really aimed at mountain bikers, who don’t need a bunch of pockets on their shirt because they’ve got stretchy shorts with no pockets on the bottom like road cyclists. There is one zippered pocket though, which is handy if you just need to make sure you’ve got a key or a credit card on you.
Select SL Jersey
Sometimes you do need a real cycling jersey with a longer tail in the back and pockets back there where you can grab what you need in a hurry. This Select SL Jersey for women (pictured further down) is sleeveless and comfortable, form-fitting enough to show off a well-toned body but with plenty of give for when you’re on the move. In my tester’s experience the moisture transfer properties worked like a charm when the weather heated up and she’s continued to wear it on workout bike rides around town. It’s got a really well-hidden zipper for venting.
If you’re out after dark, this cycling jersey has some reflective trim elements to keep you visible. It looks stylish and expensive, but won’t hit the wallet too hard at $50 list. Get it direct from the company or at Altrec.
Elite Gel Gloves
I’ve reviewed Pearl iZumi Gel Gloves before, with and without fingers, but this is the first time I’ve actually worn them for six to eight hours of cycling at a time. For both of us these gloves made a huge difference. It’s easy for your hands to go numb or get fatigued on a bike, even if you’re holding your hands in the right position. There’s just more weight on them than you usually have and they’re not used to being in one spot for such a long time.
These gloves keep your hands warm on chilly mornings, but more importantly they put a layer of gel between your hands and the handlebars that acts as a shock absorber. It sounds a little gimmicky, but it really works wonders. These new Elite Gel ones seem to come on and off a bit easier then the fingerless ones we highlighted before too, which is handy when you’re already worn out at the end of the day. They’re a mix of leather, stretchy fabric that wicks sweat, and Velcro. These come in a variety of colors and four main versions: full-fingered for men or women, and half-fingered for men and women. Expect to pay around $35-$40.
Women’s Superstar Skirt
This skirt was a true superstar in my wife’s eyes because it was the best double-duty item on this list. Because the padded chamois liner is detachable, she was able to wear it out as a regular skirt when not biking. One the bike though, if functions more like a skort—the best of both worlds. The polyester and elastane fabric wicks moisture well and provides some stretch as well. She wore this for days on the bike and was comfortable. When we parked the bikes and went somewhere for lunch, she looked like she had a regular skirt on.
If there’s some type of apparel you’ll need for competitive or casual cycling, there’s a good chance you’ll find a well-made version of it at Pearl iZumi’s site. And pretty much all of it you can wash in a sink at night and have dry clothes again by morning.
We also tried a few of their lightweight baselayers that are not real exciting or sexy, but are quite helpful when you’re starting out at 45 degrees F and will be at 80 a couple hours later. At the beginning I said the company does two things well. The other is serving runners. In both pursuits, keeping you comfortable and looking good despite sometimes dramatic temperature changes is not an easy task, but they have been pulling it off for 60 years.
Have some tw0-wheeled travel in our future? See our other biking gear reviews.